Sustainability wall opens in Wilson Library

Rob Lopresti, Clarissa Mansfield, Carolyn Bowie and Gerald Kitsis make up the Green Energy Fee Grant Program team who proposed the Sustainability Wall. Photo courtesy of Patrick Schmidt.

Seth Vidana, Campus Sustainability Manager, fills his first bottle of water at the new refill station. This water bottle refill station doesn’t require electricity and only requires the push of a button to operate. Photo courtesy of Patrick Schmidt.

Western Today staff

The sustainability wall is now open in Wilson Library at Western Washington University.

A collaborative project of Western Libraries, the Office of Sustainability and the AS Environmental Center, this wall provides Western with a central and public location where the campus community can find out about environmental and sustainability events. The wall is located near the north entrance to the Wilson Library between Zoe’s bagels and the Tutoring Center.

The wall, which previously held a water fountain, an unused radiator and an AED station (which was relocated around the corner), now incorporates a non-electric water bottle refill station, a Western Sustainability calendar, an environmental and sustainability bulletin board, and a bookshelf highlighting various sustainability themes throughout the academic year.

The idea for the wall came from a team of two students from the Students for Sustainable Water club and two Western Libraries staff members. Together, they submitted a Green Energy Fee Grant Program proposal to install a water bottle refilling station and educational kiosk in the Wilson Library to educate campus on the use of reusable water bottles as well as general information on sustainability at Western.

"Western's commitment towards the environment and sustainability is strongly ingrained in our campus culture, but up until this point it's been difficult to find an accessible resource for students to get involved and stay engaged," said Carolyn Bowie, student lead on the project. "I'm excited for the sustainability wall to be that hub of information, located in the heart of resources at WWU -- the Wilson Library."

The proposal was funded in the spring of 2013 and installation was completed in the spring quarter of this year.

The project team is excited about the opportunity to educate campus on the value of Lake Whatcom as a water resource. A sign above the water bottle refill station includes a stunning aerial photograph of Lake Whatcom and provides information on the value and issues with Lake Whatcom. Both of the student team members were also involved in the campaign to remove water bottle usage from campus.

"This project also serves the need of students to fill their water bottles on campus, especially after our recent victory in ending bottled water sales," Bowie said. "I've heard that employees at Zoe's are already directing students to make use of the newly installed refill station."

The Green Energy Fee Grant Program exists to promote experiential learning opportunities and sustainable practices at Western Washington University. The GEF is funded by Western students, managed by the Office of Sustainability, and grants are chosen by the Green Energy Fee Committee, composed of students, staff, and faculty representatives.